15 Jul - Day Zero Dinner at The Exchange
When our friends at Cash Only — a collective of chefs and creatives whose goal is to promote cross-cultural understanding — connected the dots between the data and sustainability initiative, At Our Table Co. and the Exchange restaurant, it became immediately clear to us that we should all collaborate on a dinner promoting environmental awareness. For those who weren’t able to snag tickets, here’s an inside look at the Day Zero dinner hosted at the Exchange earlier this year.
Freehand: Hey At Our Table Co.! Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you aim to do with AOTC?
At Our Table Co.: We (Dani & Lauren) started off as thesis partners in graduate school at Parsons and connected over our passion for sustainability. We started realizing that with Lauren’s background in applied research, and Dani’s background in communication design, we made a good team to address sustainability and engage individuals with a different approach — less preachy and didactic and more considerate of the human experience.
FH: Where did the concept for the dinner with Cash Only come from?
AOTC: The concept for Day Zero dinner was born out of conversations with Amanda of Cash Only. We had spoken to her about our initial dining experience that allowed for guests to experience food’s water footprint and she liked the idea. About a year later she told us about her plans to do something similar in L.A. with a chef and asked us to get involved. She came up with the name based on the water issues in South Africa and we loved it! Eventually we got to collaborate with Cash Only productions who connected us with the amazing Freehand group and Chef Alex Chang.
FH: Why did you choose to experience this message with a meal?
AOTC: It’s funny that we did not initially choose to work with food necessarily, but we both care a lot about food and have work experience in the food industry. We wanted to take a different approach to sustainable “messaging” and activism in the broadest sense. We realized that so much of what is being done is spoken of at a high level — meaning lots of boardroom talk. But many individuals often fail to see how that can relate to their everyday choices. We began to look at data to find out where individuals have the most agency in making change towards a more sustainable future, and this happened to be in people’s food choices. From there, we conducted applied ethnographic research to understand the human experience of food and sustainability and to see how we could communicate food’s environmental data in a “fun” way. This all somehow turned into a prototype dinner that sought to bring data on food’s water footprint to the dinner plate. We believe that relating data to something people do everyday, we can make sustainability more actionable for individuals.